St. Thomas is known and loved for its happening beaches; epicenters of activity where visitors frolic in the calm turquoise water with rum drinks in hand. What if you prefer places that are off the beaten track? St. Thomas has some of that too. Come on, let’s visit Neltjeberg Beach.
It takes some effort to get to Neltjeberg; your options are a bumpy dirt road, a hike, a rock scramble, or by boat. Once you get there, you will enjoy a beautiful sandy shoreline and solitude. The view from the beach includes Inner Brass, a small island. There is good swimming at Neltjeberg and decent snorkeling. Be sure to take a stroll along the beach. On the left side is a wild tangle of coconut palms that offer nice photo ops.
The coconut tree grove is recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, but its beauty is still apparent. There are trees leaning on one another, growing sideways, or even parallel to the ground. Look out for a tire swing in a coconut tree closest to the water. It is a great prop for a bit of fun.
If you visit on a weekday, you may be the only one on the beach. On weekends, the people scene typically includes a few couples and maybe a dozen folks having a small barbecue or picnic. Beachgoers to Neltjeberg often bring along their dogs, so expect to see a few fur babies chilling with their owners.
From Neltjeberg the only sign of civilization is a very fine house on the peninsula. The beach is pristine. You will need to bring your own…. everything! If you think you will need something, you need to bring it. When you leave the beach, please take all your stuff back off the beach with you. There are no trash bins.
A Beach with History
If you drive or hike to the beach, you will pass Neltjeberg Plantation Ruins. Remains include a factory, an animal mill, a stable, slave quarters, and a number of dry-stone walls. The ruins that are most visible from the dirt road seem a bit eerie tucked in the forest. They appear to be fiercely guarded by the trees and vines that have reclaimed the site. The plantation dates to the late 1700s–early 1800’s, a period in colonial history when the island belonged to Denmark.
Getting to Neltjeberg Beach
Head West on Hwy 33, Crown Mountain Road; go past Thirteen Restaurant; and drive slowly so you can look out for a slightly damaged house with a freestanding, white, cement arch in front. Turn right just next to the house/arch. Follow the road down to the beach. A Jeep or vehicle with high ground clearance and 4WD is strongly recommended! The road is mostly dirt, with a few paved switchbacks. There is a fork in the dirt road just before the beach; right goes to a private residence, and left goes to the beach. Park at the end of the dirt road.
Rock Scramble from Dorothea Beach
Follow the rocks along the left side of Dorothea Beach around the peninsula. You must be flexible, sure-footed, and traveling light to do the rock scramble. After crossing over the peninsula, you will see Neltjeberg in the distance; it’s the next bay over from Dorothea.
Hike from Dorothea Beach
The trail head is on the left side of Dorothea Beach in the forest. There are no signs. The trail leads up a small hill, around the ridge of the peninsula, across a small, intermittent stream, and then to a bit of a paved road that turns into a dirt road. The hike takes about 20 minutes.